Movie Icebreakers

Our writers breakdown their top films to break the ice

multiple writers
13th October 2020
Image credit: Pixabay
You don’t get to choose your housemates in first year and, more often than not, your personalities probably won’t be perfect pairings. But that doesn’t mean you can’t get along and enjoy each other’s company. With the world being as it is, everyone will be spending more time in their accommodation more than they would usually like, so why not break the ice with a good old-fashioned movie night?

Game Night (2018)

A mainstream, all-star comedy-thriller that is genuinely funny, Game Night, led by Rachel McAdams and Jason Bateman, follows a group of friends puzzling their way through an unexpectedly sinister Murder Mystery night.

Image: IMDb

I’m prepared to make the bold claim that Game Night will please every possible stereotype of student in your flat. The gym lad who exclusively watches action blockbusters; the artsy girl who loved the similarly Rachel McAdams-starring indie Disobedience (2017); the intense studier who just came into the kitchen to make some tea, but ends up standing behind the sofa for way too long, entranced by the fast-paced plot.

This is a film for seemingly everyone, that goes way beyond its Hollywood peers’ jobs as lukewarm money-machines, instead tackling a surprisingly clever plot with laugh-out-loud humour and endearing characters. The electronic techno-tinged score fills scenes with genuine tension, while the dark humour and sweet inter-character relationships make for a satisfying mix of genres.

Game Night is an excellent all-rounder for a night-in, mastering the knack of freshening up predictable comedy tropes without veering into unwatchably ‘edgy’ or problematic territory. It’s not scary or gory enough to be avoided by horror-haters, and there are no awkward sex scenes to blush through with people you’ve just met. And, after its 2018 box-office success, it also doesn’t matter if some members of the flat have seen it before; the film is substantial enough and filled with plenty of timeless jokes that outlast the shock of the plot twists.

If you’re looking for a ‘background’ film to soundtrack an increasingly rowdy pres, Game Night is perhaps worth higher levels of your concentration. But for a fully engaging, smart, and all-around fun watch to enjoy with new friends? It’s perfect.

Leonie Bellini

Booksmart (2019)

A lesson learned is a lesson earned, but one I wish I’d learned earlier was to relax a bit more and not worry so much about academics – especially in first year! Introducing Booksmart (2019): a coming-of-age comedy, that runs to the hills with its sharp and witty script and Generation Z antics. I know what you’re thinking, “another teen comedy film?” But trust me on this one.

@booksmart Via Instagram

Criminally underseen last summer, Booksmart follows high school friends Molly Davidson (Beanie Feldstein) and Amy Antsler (Kaitlyn Dever) who, on the night of their graduation, plan to make up for the lack of partying they did when they realised that all the “cool kids” partied throughout the year, while still getting the grades to go to Ivy League colleges. Its premise gets to the heart of the Gen Z crisis: believing that everyone has accomplished everything before you.

The amazing chemistry between Feldstein and Dever carries the emotional core of the film - their life plans for university and beyond threatening their inseparability – while the supporting cast is as colourful as it comes, highlighting the various and eccentric personalities of their year group. Billie Lourd’s performance as Gigi is a particular stand-out, with her running ubiquity gag being a scene stealer.   

Booksmart also diverges from the teen comedy pack with its LGBTQ+ storyline. While Molly wants to say that she both partied and studied, Amy (although she has been out for some years prior) tries to push herself out of her comfort zone and engage with her sexuality, having never been in a relationship. The storyline is filled with heartwarming hilarity, without ever feeling disingenuous. The film vanquishes the sex manic teen cliche for something much closer to home.

All-in-all, Booksmart is a film that reminds us that as scary as change is, it’s also the freedom that lets us live our best lives. We may not be in a situation that we picked for ourselves, but we can always make the best out of any situation.

Peter Lennon

Coming to America (1988)

This film is a personal favourite of mine and it has everything you would want in a movie. With iconic scenes, hilarious quotes, a feel-good love story and Eddie Murphy. I mean who doesn't like Eddie Murphy? The man is a comedic genius and in this movie, he notably plays the leading role of Prince Akeem ,from Zamunda, who seems to have everything and is engaged to a hand-picked wife by the King and Queen, played by James Earl Jones and Madge Sinclair, respectively

Image: IMDb

He leaves this luxury lifestyle to travel to Queens, New York, with his best friend, Semmi (Arsenio Hall), to search for his wife. In an attempt to conceal his wealth and royalty, he poses as a student, where he unusually relishes in this simpler lifestyle. He even relishes in his mundane job at a McDonald's knock-off called "McDowells", where he meets Lisa McDowell, the owner's daughter. From there we see his roller-coaster of attempts to get her attention.

This movie is filled with laughter and multiple unique characters played by Eddie Murphy and Arsenio Hall that will have all you flatmates in tears. Though a movie released in the 80s, it still holds up till this day. There's even a second movie due to be released and trust me, if it's even as half as good as the first movie it would be worth the watch.

Coming to America is truly one for the books!

Freda Tuor

Knives Out (2019)

It's impossible to get along with everyone. That's one of the things I wish I understood when I first started uni and, in the words of my icon John Mulaney, needed "everybody, all day long, to like me so much - it's exhausting." Unfortunately this extends to my love of films and the intense pressure of finding one to watch. So, like every day, I'm trying to find something that everyone will like, when it hits me - 2019's Knives Out.

Image: IMDb

I mean, surely it's perfect? Chris Evans for the Marvel fans, Daniel Craig and his CSI-Kentucky accent for the James Bond fans, Jamie Lee Curtis for the horror fans, all with Ryan Johnson directing... for those of us more forgiving Star Wars fans. In case you missed this star-studded feature last year and its student-friendly release on Amazon Prime, the film follows the death of crime author Harlan Thrombey in his, quite frankly, ridiculous sized house - fitting for his quite ridiculous family. Brought together by the death of their relative, the Thrombeys are analysed by Craig's Detective Benoit Blanc (a name alone which deserves an Oscar), as it becomes clear that anybody and everybody is a suspect.

Knives Out is funny, dramatic, and has some great set pieces. Whilst it completely upturns the crime genre, it's easy to follow and at just over two hours long, you might even be able to fit a trip to the pub in after. It'll give everyone something to talk about, and I'd expect at least one of your flatmates to have a one hour powerpoint presentation prepared the following day just on Chris Evans' sweater (it's me, I am that flatmate). The world might be chaotic right now, but start the academic year as you mean to go on; with a good film and good company.

Hattie Metcalfe

Remember the Titans (2000)

What better to break the ice than a film which polarises opinion and encourages debate and discussion? Remember the Titans (2000) does just this. In spite of its lack of subtlety and fairly predictable character arcs, it’s difficult not to leave the picture with a smile on your face and a renewed sense of optimism.

Image: IMDb

The story follows Coach Boone, played by Denzel Washington, as he’s tasked with leading the formerly segregated T.C Williams High school team to victory, against fierce racial discrimination in the south. The picture is a product of Hollywood, and it's apparent throughout that it won’t deviate from stylistic and narrative norms, yet the film works, and at times it goes one step further.

Washington plays the role of Coach Boone with ease, and as ever, gives the most effective performance out of the whole ensemble. The picture will undoubtedly divide viewers, with some lampooning its perceived superficiality whilst others will elicit every emotion the producers intended, tapping into its sentimentality and warmth wholeheartedly.

Ultimately, I side with the latter, finding the story a powerful and skilfully executed portrayal of racial divide in America. Remember the Titans is a great icebreaker option not only for its compelling story, but also its ability to ignite conversation amongst one’s peers.

Geordie Rivett-Carnac

Featured Image: IMDb, Pixy

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